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Queen's University

Queen's University: Volume I, 1841-1917: And Not to Yield

Frederick W. Gibson
Roger Graham
Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 363
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  • Book Info
    Queen's University
    Book Description:

    The figure of Grant inevitably dominates this volume, but full recognition is given to other builders and preservers of Queen's, notably William Snodgrass, the pilot who weathered the storms of the Sixties and Seventies, and Daniel Miner Gordon, who presided over the secularization of the university in the early years of this century. Outstanding scholars, teachers, and administrators such as Watson, Williamson, MacKerras, Macnaughton, Dupuis, Shortt, Cappon, Goodwin, and Chown also figure prominently. The author examines in detail the role of the Board of Trustees, the Senate, and the undergraduate Alma Mater Society in the development of Queen's, and explores the complex relationships with the Presbyterian Church, the sister institutions in Toronto, and the provincial government. She shows how the distinctive character of Queen's was shaped by the Scottish heritage, evident in an emphasis upon flexible curricula, close faculty-student relations, and the virtues of student self-government, as well as in a sturdy independence in the face of repeated pressure for the concentration of higher education in Ontario. Imbued with a warm appreciation of the traditions of Queen's University and a scholar's critical detachement, this book is an important contribution to the history of institutional growth in Canada.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6074-1
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Ronald L. Watts

    This, the first volume of the history of Queen’s University at Kingston, written by Hilda Neatby and edited and completed by Frederick Gibson and Roger Graham, spans the years 1841 to 1917. Readers will be struck by how the university during this period was beset by misfortune after misfortune and yet through the sheer determination of its supporters surmounted them all to emerge by the end of the nineteenth century as one of Canada’s great national universities. In the words of Leonard Brockington, “the story of Queen’s is the story of a fire that would not be quenched.”

    The history...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Frederick W. Gibson and Roger Graham
  6. ONE “A Token for Good”
    (pp. 1-10)

    On a March day in 1842, the wife of Rev. John Machar of St. Andrew’s Church, Kingston, sat writing a leisurely letter to Rev. William Reid of Grafton who was recovering from a serious illness. After somewhat lengthy expressions of sympathy and of spiritual consolation she went on to give him the news of the day.

    You will have observed by the newspapers that Queen’s College is now in operation. There are 15 or 16 students, seven of whom are studying for the ministry, but though there are so few, the professors have a great deal of hard and harrying...

  7. TWO The Founding of Queen’s
    (pp. 11-32)

    In spite of the small staff, the few students, the limited funds, and the temporary accommodation, the successful operation of the University in its first term and the hopeful beginning of the second might well have seemed to be “a token for good.” Unfortunately, as early as the summer of 1842 there was evidence of disappointment and discouragement among many, including former warm supporters and even some of the first founders. Sweeping criticisms were circulated and drastic suggestions were made for the disposal of this now apparently unwanted child. The explanation for this change of front is to be found...

  8. THREE “Deep Humiliation”
    (pp. 33-50)

    Delays and disappointments are natural incidents in the early life of any ambitious and innovating institution. It was inevitable that these should have been encountered during the launching of a college by three separate and independent agencies, all of which had to wait on the unpredictable movements by the benevolent but often apparently somnolent monster at Whitehall.

    Almost immediately, however, Queen’s had to undergo additional trials which do seem to justify Mrs. Machar’s foreboding of “deep humiliation.” The threatened schism of which she had written to Rev. William Reid did almost destroy the college. It was, moreover, accompanied by other...

  9. FOUR The Bible College
    (pp. 51-62)

    For three years after Liddell’s departure the “university question” along with other great questions of the day remained unsettled. As the great disruption on ecclesiastical issues, which seemed alien to Canada, had profoundly affected religious and educational affairs in Canada West, so Britain’s repeal of the corn laws, a primarily domestic issue, caused immediate and painful repercussions in North America and especially in the St. Lawrence colony.

    It so happened that the series of measures which preceded the repeal, aimed at facilitating the import of wheat grown abroad, had also, through colonial preferences, given an artificial stimulus to trade along...

  10. FIVE Roots and Branches: Summerhill and the Medical College
    (pp. 63-84)

    Queen’s first decade had been one of experiments in survival. The second was marked by an expansion and an optimism which reflected the new prosperity and confidence in the province at large. After the first alarm, the Canadas adjusted with surprising ease to the loss of Great Britain’s protected markets. Bountiful crops at home, an increased market for wheat abroad, along with an enormous expansion in the American demand for Canadian timber as the new settlements spread into the nearly treeless plains of the Middle West gave new life to the whole economy. The opening of American markets by the...

  11. SIX The Trials of Principal Leitch
    (pp. 85-108)

    “Queen’s made quiet progress under Principal Leitch.”¹ With these words the urbane and charming historian of Queen’s first century turned his back on episodes which, he believed, had no place in the good tradition of Queen’s. But deceptive reticence may be carried too far. Nothing could have been more untrue than the word “quiet” as applied to most of the unhappy events of Leitch’s three and a half years at Queen’s. The college was the scene of bitter controversy, furious personal quarrels, and a scandal, grave even by twentieth-century standards, and almost unmentionable in one of the straitest communities of...

  12. SEVEN Severe Shocks and a Fresh Start
    (pp. 109-130)

    The first business of the trustees in May 1864 was the selection or rather the finding of a new principal. The task was a nearly impossible one. What man could combine the conventional professional and academic qualifications of the principal of Queen’s University with the courage to walk a path so studded with pitfalls that failure was almost certain? What man would be courageous or foolhardy enough to think that he could restore unity to the Senate, harmonious relations between Senate and board, a reasonable understanding with the medical faculty, and discipline among students who for years had been observing...

  13. EIGHT “A Marvellous Vitality”
    (pp. 131-150)

    “Letnil desperandumbe your eternal motto,” wrote Snodgrass in 1878 from the retreat of his pleasant parish of Canonbie, Scotland, to which he had retired after his resignation from Queen’s.¹ He had earned the right to offer this exhortation for, quite apart from the “deadly shocks” which have been discussed, he had in his time constantly to face hard work, much discouragement, and a multitude of minor problems and perplexities within the college itself.

    The year before he came to Queen’s, 1863–64, the total registration was 139 with 60 students in arts and theology and 79 in medicine....

  14. NINE Principal Grant: The First Decade
    (pp. 151-168)

    George Monro Grant, the first of Queen’s Canadian-born principals, arrived in Kingston on December 1, 1877. Born in 1835 of Scottish parents, brought up in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, he had been educated at Pictou Academy and Glasgow University before being ordained as a minister of the Church of Scotland. His distinguished career and his close intimacy with the famous Scottish preacher, Rev. Norman McLeod, opened to him the possibility, which must have been attractive to a man of his energy and ambition, of a career in Scotland. Even as a student, however, he seems to have been actuated by...

  15. TEN Learning on a Little Oatmeal
    (pp. 169-192)

    On December 15, 1889, Queen’s saw the longest and most splendid Convocation ceremony of its history. It was inspired by the success of the Jubilee campaign and by the return of the principal from his extended leave, restored in health and energy and ready to resume his conduct of the college. Arranged to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the meeting held in Kingston to launch the first endowment campaign, it was given the rather awkward name of the “Semi-Centennial Celebration.”

    The celebration began with a solemn service and Convocation on Sunday morning. At the request of the students the...

  16. ELEVEN A Unique Freedom
    (pp. 193-210)

    Principal Grant often boasted that Queen’s, following the tradition of Scottish universities, treated the students not as boys but as men. TheJournalconfirmed this. “He has always treated the students not as boys,” it remarked, “but as gentlemen, seeking to lead rather than to coerce, and under his sway there has been no need for normal discipline.”² But this was written twenty years after Grant came to Queen’s when the “Geordie, our King” tradition was so firmly established that it was easy to assume that Grant had from the first commanded unquestioning loyalty. The true story is different -...

  17. TWELVE Faculties New and Old
    (pp. 211-224)

    Although Queen’s University had early contemplated adding to the Faculties of Theology and Arts those of Medicine and Law, and although each of these faculties had existed for a time, long before the arrival of Grant the Faculty of Law had ceased to function, and the Faculty of Medicine had branched off to become the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. The Royal College, however, had never been completely independent. It was confined to teaching medical subjects and to issuing diplomas. The university gave instruction in chemistry and biology to the medical students and conferred all degrees. In this mutual...

  18. THIRTEEN Queen’s and a National Ideal
    (pp. 225-244)

    The late twentieth century with its multiplicity of universities presents a scene that makes it difficult to understand the almost religious enthusiasm of many in nineteenth-century Ontario for the idea of “one university.” The ideal stemmed first from a revulsion against the bitterness of sectarian strife and the poverty of the many small colleges which it tended to bring into being, and second, from a growing conviction that the mounting costs of higher education could be met only by one well-endowed institution. On the other hand, the ideal of the smaller institution calculated to offer, along with intellectual enlightenment, a...

  19. FOURTEEN Constitutional Controversy
    (pp. 245-268)

    Although it had been known that Grant was in failing health, his death on May 13, 1902, in the midst of his work, at a crisis in Queen’s affairs, came to the university not only as a grief and a loss, but as a grave blow. The prayer of his dying hours, “Give me a chance, oh my God, give me a chance,” was not untypical of his attitude to his work. Paraphrasing the younger Pitt, he might have been saying, “I know that I can save Queen's and no one else can.” It was now that the students’ gay...

  20. FIFTEEN A National University
    (pp. 269-290)

    Those who had opposed Gordon’s appointment as principal had argued that as well as being too old he had not the necessary strength of character. No one can say what strength of character would have been needed to achieve, with limited knowledge and experience, true leadership of the late principal’s formidable colleagues on the board and on the Senate. Gordon had not shown himself a strong leader during the constitutional controversy. At the same time, it must be questioned whether, in this period of divided opinions not only on constitutional but on religious and moral questions, Queen’s could have afforded...

  21. SIXTEEN Queen’s and World War I
    (pp. 291-304)

    It is impossible to tell the story of Queen’s in the early twentieth century without being conscious of the shadow of the war which was to precipitate immense changes in the life of the university and the nation. Although the outbreak of hostilities came as a shock to many, life at Queen’s had already been influenced, and indeed clouded, by the widespread argument over the international situation and Canada’s future role on the international scene. Grant, as has been seen, had gathered a group of strong and diverse personalities and had encouraged the freest discussion. In an age of increasingly...

  22. Notes
    (pp. 305-336)
  23. Bibliography
    (pp. 337-339)
  24. Index
    (pp. 340-346)